Borussia Dortmund have developed a reputation in recent years as the premier address for the world’s top young footballers, and not without good reason.
From Christian Pulisic to Ousmane Dembele, Jadon Sancho to Erling Haaland, talented teenagers are attracted by the promise of guaranteed game time and the chance to play in front of Europe’s biggest crowds. But Dortmund aren’t a charity; they don’t give youth a chance out of the goodness of their hearts. Nor do they only have huge profits in mind when their rough diamonds have been polished and inevitably move on.
No, they also implicitly trust the kids to make the difference on the pitch, as they did to devastating effect in a 3-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday evening.
Ten minutes before halftime, 17-year-old Jude Bellingham set up 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna to open the scoring. The Stourbridge-born Englishman cleverly fed the Sunderland-born American for a goal made in England, but scored in Dortmund.
Ten minutes after halftime, comparative veterans Haaland and Sancho took center-stage, discussing passionately who should take a penalty awarded after Reyna had been fouled. The Norwegian got his way and doubled the score.
But there were clearly no hard feelings as the two 20-year-olds combined harmoniously to make it three, counter-attacking at lightning speed together before Sancho set up Haaland to fire home his 15th goal in 16th Bundesliga games.
DW’s Matt Ford
Good for Dortmund, good for the Bundesliga
It was an undeniable statement of opening-day intent from Borussia Dortmund against a top-four rival. Not only that, however, it was also an important result for the Bundesliga as a whole following the events of the previous evening.
Bayern’s 8-0 drubbing of hapless Schalke was not a good look for Germany’s top flight.
Dortmund and Gladbach, however, offered up a much better advert for the German game. Two of the league’s top sides coached by two of its best coaches pressed aggressively from the start, and effectively canceled each other out in an absorbing first half.
Indeed, it says much about the depth of talent available to Lucien Favre that Julian Brandt and Mahmoud Dahoud only made the bench, while Youssoufa Moukoko will be eligible once he turns 16 in November. Even on the opposing team, Florian Neuhaus, one of Germany’s most promising midfield prospects was pulling the strings.
And all of that in front of 9,300 Borussia Dortmund fans who did their best to make enough noise to make up for the missing 71,600. The Dortmund players were cheered deafeningly when they took to the field and every tackle won or counter-attack launched prompted those guttural roars and almost-forgotten sounds of football from a different time.
While the Borussia in green failed to make the breakthrough, the Borussia in yellow did. They had the kids to thank for that – and so did the Bundesliga, which showed it does have a great deal to offer after all.